Body Language is a group exhibition in video format that focuses on two emerging artists whose video works explore the ways in which language determines and is eluded by our relationships to our bodies. While speech is inherently bodily – sculpted by our hand gestures, larynx, vocal chords, and breath emanating from the lungs – it also divides our understanding of our bodies in the world, creating distinctions that we would not necessarily otherwise perceive.
Hannah Black’s (b. Manchester, United Kingdom) The Neck (2014) bridges her memory of failing to include connecting body parts – necks, ankles, wrists – in her childhood drawings with larger political questions about mediation. Her video Team Jolie (2013) flashes between close-cropped images of Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston – subjects of a ubiquitous celebrity feud – while enumerating the personal experience of embodying stereotypical female roles, including that of “a machine for producing affection.”
Sara Magenheimer’s (b. 1981, Philadelphia) From the Movie of the Same Name (2016) marches disembodied proper names across a black screen. A jellyfish – a translucent animal whose “intelligence is in [its] body” – narrates Magenheimer’s second featured work, Best is Man’s Breath Quality (2017), raising questions about the embodied experience of animals and humans. “Do [your] habitual tensions also manifest on the inside? Are your livers furrowed like your brows? Does your heart have a groove in it from where it was badly broken?”
Images: Hannah Black, Team Jolie, 2014. HD video, color, sound; 4 minutes, 36 seconds. Courtesy the artist and Arcadia Missa. Sara Magenheimer, Best is Man’s Breath Quality, 2017. HD video, color, sound; 15 minutes, 30 seconds. Courtesy of the artist and Video Data Bank